The Peter Boris Centre for Addictions Research is the result of a transformative gift from Owen and Marta Boris in the memory of their youngest son, Peter. Recognizing the consequences of addiction for those who are afflicted, their loved ones, and society as a whole, the gift supported the creation of both a research centre dedicated to advancing the understanding of addiction and an endowed chair to direct the centre.
The Peter Boris Centre for Addictions Research is located at the Margaret and Charles Juravinski Centre for Integrated Healthcare at St. Joseph's Healthcare Hamilton, a clinical partner of the Michael DeGroote School of Medicine at McMaster University. It opened on October 1st, 2014, under the leadership of Dr. James MacKillop, its Director and the inaugural holder of the Peter Boris Chair in Addictions Research.
Dr. MacKillop trained as a clinical psychologist and addiction scientist at Binghamton University and Brown University. Prior to joining the Peter Boris Centre for Addictions Research and its academic partner, McMaster University, Dr. MacKillop was a faculty member at Brown's Center for Alcohol and Addiction Studies and at the University of Georgia, where he was also Associate Director of the Owens Institute for Behavioral Research. Dr. MacKillop's research program applies a multidisciplinary framework for understanding addiction, using concepts and methods from psychology, economics, cognitive neuroscience, and behavioural genetics. This broad approach reflects his perspective that addiction is simply too complex to be fully understood from any single disciplinary perspective.
The Peter Boris Centre for Addictions Research's mission is to conduct state-of-the-art research on the causes, consequences, and treatment of addiction, and this mission is guided by four foundational values:
Innovation: To develop and employ novel research strategies and methods to make significant contributions to the scientific understanding of addiction.
Translation: To leverage basic behavioural science, cognitive neuroscience, and behavioural genetics to improve the assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of addiction.
Collaboration: To serve as a nexus for addiction research at St. Joseph's Healthcare Hamilton, McMaster University, and the community at large.
Education: To provide outstanding training to the next generation of addiction researchers, psychiatrists, psychologists, and other mental health professionals.
In addition to these values, at the heart of the Centre's ethos is an appreciation of the human aspect of addiction. The individuals who suffer are not simply people defined by their challenges — "drunks", "crackheads", or "junkies". Those are the labels of stigma, not science. Individuals with addictive disorders are also sons and daughters, fathers and mothers, and husbands and wives. In memory of one person's struggle, the Peter Boris Centre for Addictions Research strives to always remember the humanity of all those who endeavour to overcome addiction.